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Match Reports

Walsall 1-4 MK Dons

30 April 2017

The Saddlers’ 2016/17 campaign ended in disappointing fashion after a comprehensive home defeat by MK Dons.

Stunning strikes from Robbie Muirhead and Ben Reeves gave the dominant Dons a deserved two-goal half-time lead. 
 
Stuart O’Keefe added a fortuitous third before Erhun Oztumer pulled one back, only for Harvey Barnes to restore MK’s three-goal advantage seconds later. 
 
The result means Walsall end the season in 14th place. 
 
Robbie Neilson’s Dons, who knew they could secure a top-half finish with a win, took the lead with the game’s first meaningful opportunity on 11 minutes. 
 
Muirhead raced onto Harvey Barnes’ majestic lofted pass and lashed an emphatic half-volley beyond Craig MacGillivray at his near post. 
 
Ex-Hearts man Muirhead went close to doubling his and the visitors’ tally with a low left-footed drive which MacGillivray got down well to claim. 
 
Walsall’s first real chance came on 27 minutes, when Eoghan O’Connell nodded George Dobson’s free-kick across to Kory Roberts, whose close-range header was tipped over by Lee Nicholls. 
 
But the Buckinghamshire club doubled their advantage in spectacular fashion just past the half-hour, Reeves cutting inside onto his left foot and hitting a fierce 25-yard strike into the far corner. 
 
The Dons could have gone even further ahead as Barnes broke into the box before seeing a shot blocked, with Ed Upson – who curled wide moments earlier - dragging the rebound off target. 
 
Ben Tilney then sliced an effort well wide as Nielson’s rampant visitors continued to dominate. 
 
Half-time: Walsall 0-2 MK Dons 
 
Having seen his team outplayed in the first half, Walsall boss Jon Whitney made a double half-time substitution – bringing on Flo Cuvelier and Kieron Morris for youngsters Roberts and Mitch Candlin. 
 
Morris was immediately involved, steering a low drive wide after some good skill from O’Connell. 
 
Dons still remained a threat, with George Baldock having a 25-yard curler spilled by MacGillivray, who gathered at the second attempt. 
 
Morris then fired straight at Nicholls, while Barnes found the gloves of MacGillivray at the other end following a swift counter-attack. 
 
MK added a third goal with 19 minutes remaining when Ben Tilney’s 20-yard drive took a wicked deflection off O’Keefe and nestled into the bottom corner. 
 
The Saddlers pulled one back six minutes from time, Oztumer advancing towards the box and drilling a thunderous left-footed strike past Nichollls. 
 
But the Dons restored their three-goal lead just seconds later.
 
Barnes weaved his way into the area and fired a low drive into the net - via a telling deflection off James O'Connor. 
 
Full-time: Walsall 1-4 MK Dons 
 
Team: MacGillivray, O’Connor, O’Connell, Roberts (Morris 45’), McCarthy, Chambers, Dobson, Edwards, Oztumer, Candlin (Cuvelier 45’), Makris. 
 
Subs not used: Ganley, Kinsella, Bakayoko, Sangha, Kouhyar.

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